Technology remains most trusted sector in Ireland

27 Jan 2011

Political shenanigans, gambling bankers and a dysfunctional economy aside, technology remains the most trusted sphere of life in Ireland, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

Trust in Government fell by 11 percentage points since 2009, to an all-time low of 20pc. This compares to a global average of 52pc, according to the latest findings of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which is conducted in 23 countries. Ireland is now the least trusting of government out of all the EU member states surveyed.

Trust in Irish business recovered to 46pc, up 15 percentage points, signalling a marked improvement, considering the financial turmoil of the past year. Despite the improvement, trust in Irish business remains low and is within five points of Russia, the least trusted country for business.

Trust in Irish banking plummeted by 20 percentage points since 2009, with only 6pc of respondents now trusting the sector. This marks an all-time barometer low for a least-trusted industry on a global basis.

Trust in Irish media is low

Trust in the Irish media also remains low at 38pc, which is on a par with most other EU countries. NGOs were the most trusted institution in Ireland, which is reflective of the global trend with NGOs recording a global trust rating of 61pc.

Despite ongoing negative international media coverage, the barometer findings suggest this has not affected sentiment toward Ireland. Fourteen of the 23 countries surveyed, including key trading partners like the US and UK, report trusting global companies headquartered in Ireland.

In the trust composite score, an average of a country’s trust in all four institutions (government, media, business, NGOs), Ireland was ranked in last place, just behind Russia and the UK.

The findings of the barometer point to a trust deficit across all institutions in Ireland, with the exception of NGOs.

“The deep and continuously low levels of trust in business and our system of Government reflect the economic challenges and negative sentiment which has been experienced over the past year,” said Mark Cahalane, managing director, Edelman Ireland.

“It is noteworthy that across the western world, trust in governments and banks are closely related. This is particularly so in Ireland, where only one in five now trust our system of government. A recovery in trust will require increased levels of transparency, a constant articulation of the actions being taken to rebuild confidence, as well as acceptance by those in positions of authority that full responsibility must be taken for the current crisis.”

Despite the loss of confidence in the system of government, just more than 80pc of stakeholders surveyed in Ireland believe that Government must regulate corporations’ activities to ensure that business is behaving responsibly. On a global basis, 61pc of stakeholders shared this view. Almost 90pc of stakeholders in Ireland also want businesses to create shareholder value in a way that aligns with society’s interests, even if that means sacrificing shareholder value.

Challenges of perception

“The message cannot be clearer. Business is seen as a potential solution to our economic challenges but it cannot be trusted or expected to act alone. Equally, there is a new expectation of business to align profit with social purpose for the benefit of Irish society.

“This marks a clear shift from the years of economic boom where profit was chased at all costs with poor regulation and limited Government intervention. Irish society is now paying the price. Businesses who respond to this new dynamic of aligning profit and social purpose will be the leaders in trust and corporate reputation,” Cahalane said.

Search engines rank as the first place Irish people go for information about a company. Following in the ranking of sources people go to first for information are print/broadcast media and online media.

Traditional radio, television and newspapers, as well as online search engines, rank as the most-trusted sources of information in Ireland which is similar to major markets, including the US, the UK and China.

The survey also shows that trust in most industries in Ireland is up, which reflects the global trend. Technology remains the most trusted sector (75pc) followed by the food and beverage (64pc) and the automotive and entertainment sectors (both 61pc).

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years